Claro Energy provides off-grid solar power pumping solutions to power-deficient regions in India. The company was established in 2011, with the objective of harnessing solar power to pump ground water. Claro’s solar water pump solutions can have broad application across irrigation, agriculture, drinking water, and urban settings.
Claro’s off-grid solar water pump solutions enable villages in India to irrigate larger amounts of farmland independent of the monsoon patterns or the availability of power to operate ground water pumps, resulting in increased production during the summer season, and allowing funds saved on the purchase of diesel to be invested in more efficient technologies. All of these results will increase farmers’ productivity and income, while decreasing GHG emissions. The pumps also create employment in rural, agricultural communities, as villagers have the opportunity to become local irrigation service providers.
Claro Energy has installed five fixed solar systems and 50 trolley systems, all of which are currently being used in fields for irrigation and serving 30-40 farmers per day. A prepaid card system is now being used for remote activation of the pump/cart systems. Over 900 farmers are benefitting from the systems, with roughly 18% of those being women. Claro has a staff of 12 professionals available to provide technical assistance to users and continues to conduct trainings and demonstrations. Farmer feedback was crucial in the design of the pump, and Claro used this to create a new version of their trolley product.
In India, the farmer’s challenges are two-fold. Firstly, the availability of irrigation water is either dependent on monsoon patterns or on the availability of power to operate ground water pumps. Many villages lack access to electricity. Given this lack of electricity, diesel pumps are often the most reliable means to pump the water that is used for irrigation. The use of diesel fuel has many drawbacks, including environmental pollution, as well as ever-increasing costs which have a negative impact on farmers’ economic prosperity (i.e., yields and loss of a crop).
Secondly, all the effort of growing crops by the farmer goes to a waste if s/he is unable to even fetch market prices of produce. The farmer also has to pay costs of commission and storage. Further, the market linkage of crops is very poor, and even when the farmer is able to sell the crops at less than market prices, payments are always delayed.
Claro Energy is developing a pay-per-use irrigation service that uses a portable solar pump. The portable design will provide affordable, convenient, and on-demand irrigation. The service will meet the needs of a wide range of farmers who do not own pumps, with no upfront capital costs incurred. The farmer will call a toll-free line, pre-pay, and schedule irrigation service at his field. This ensures low cost of irrigation for the farmer. In addition, Claro Energy has successfully piloted and now plans to purchase the farmer’s produce and sell it in the market for the farmers it serves. An added benefit of doing this is that there is near zero food wastage and efficiency losses which happens when food is mishandled. Claro Energy is able to aggregate produce, grade, sort, pack, and transport in an economically sustainable manner. Market linkage of farmer’s produce also has a stabilizing effect on the upstream irrigation demand and helps to build a cohesiveness farmer relationship.
Solar Pumps - Powering the Way Ahead (Off Grid Energy Independence)